Now that the free agency dust has settled and the big names are off the board, there are still a few options available that could potentially help solve Montreal's scoring woes.
Unfortunately the Canadiens missed out on such players as Justin Williams, Michael Frolik, and Joel Ward, who like the vast majority of the 2015 free agency class, signed astonishingly reasonable contracts with their new clubs. The remaining free agent forward list is littered with third and fourth line players, however there are two names that stand out; Eric Fehr and Alexander Semin.
First let's take a look at Semin, whose five-year, $35M contract was recently bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes. He's rumoured to be willing to sign a one-year contract, which would remove much of the risk involved for any interested team.
Semin's agent says Alexander is ok with a 1-year deal for now. Refuses to talk about an option of the #KHL— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) July 5, 2015
That doesn't mean he's willing to accept pennies on the dollar, but it does make the idea of signing him much more enticing. Despite his recent struggles with the Hurricanes, Semin is still bordering on a top-line forward over the last few years.
Depending on Semin's asking price, he could very well be a worthwhile gamble. It's hard to argue that he wouldn't be an upgrade on one of the right-wing spots. That being said, he's definitely not the type of player that coach Michel Therrien tends to rely on, which may render the entire idea of signing Semin to a one-year deal an unrealistic proposition.
On the other hand, Eric Fehr is the type of player that I could see Therrien falling in love with. At 6'4" and 212 lbs he's a big body that has good offensive instincts. He probably qualifies as one of the most underrated wingers in the league, consistently producing very respectable offensive numbers. It's also worth noting that Fehr can play on both wings.
To be perfectly honest, I'm a little confused as to how Fehr is still available. He received third-line minutes last season, yet produced second-line numbers, playing alongside Joel Ward and Brooks Laich. Even though he's not the best skater in the league, Fehr manages to create an impressive amount of individual scoring chances, racking up 136 last season, good for second amongst all Washington Capitals players, above such players as Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom.
All things considered, despite his recent buyout, I expect Semin to command more money on the open market, especially since he's willing to accept a one-year deal. If the Habs are interested in his services it would have to be via a sweetheart deal.
Fehr, on the other hand, could definitely add 15 or more goals to the Canadiens' scoring totals next season, all the while eating up less of Marc Bergevin's precious cap space than his Russian counterpart, seeing as how he's only signed one contract throughout his NHL career that's earned him over $2M per season. Bargain scoring is a rare thing in today's NHL - entry-level contracts excluded - which makes the prospect of signing Fehr a smart one for the Habs.